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AnimalFather

Rockstar's Game Design is Outdated

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AnimalFather

 

after playing Red 2 and not liking I knew something was up. This guy clearly describes what is wrong with the game and Rockstar games in general.

 

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Commander S

...yeah, pretty much. And I'll add that I feel a lot of that is down to R* wanting to have their proverbial cake and eat it, in many regards:

 

- they want an open world because 'that's what R* does', but also a highly-linear "cinematic" story, which ends up turning the open world into a backdrop

- ...except they also want side missions, which means the story/tone often gets derailed to do random stuff for a bunch of weird caricatures

- they want to tell stories with movie-style pacing, but also have the games only ever bigger and longer - resulting in a 2-hour story getting stretched, padded and repeated to 30+ hours

- they want ever more 'realism', but still fall back on GTA-style mechanical staples - hence why every cop in Saint Denis instantly knows to hunt you down the moment you commit a crime (or nudge someone with your horse...), like they all carry pagers (in 1899...).

 

And there's more, too - the video brings up the more systemically-driven MGSV, and I think where R*'s approach falls short is that they're effectively trying to spend their way around the limits of a synthetic virtual world. Things like MGSV might not have thousands of uniquely-sculpted, uniquely-voiced NPCs, all with unique dialogue and interactions, but the game often feels more real, because Kojima and co. made sure that guard AI covers enough interlocking actions and reactions to fit all the various permutations of events/systems/interactions possible. Block a truck's path with an APC in MGSV, and the drive won't keep bumping into it like in GTAV, or just stop - they'll back the truck up, get out, and ...blow up the APC to clear the road (!).

 

Meanwhile RDR2 does have unique NPCs with unique dialogue ...that runs out when you exhaust all the options. It's impossible to hand-craft every possible interaction in a virtual world, so trying to do as much as possible is just going to push the problem further down the road, not eliminate it completely. And on top of that, there are a lot of times where R* hasn't accounted for something with unique content, and the illusion shatters - like when you accidentally nudge an NPC you're helping, and they panic, and you can't calm them down, so ...that mission fails, or just never resolves, because R* didn't assume to program some kind of 'calm down'/reset state.

 

 

And on top of that, so many of the scripted missions are pretty rote and uninspired, IMO - I was watching a streamer get increasingly bored with RDR2, every time a mission devolved into 'ride here, shoot all the things, ride back (possibly while getting chased - so that means riding and shooting!)', which is pretty much the same with a lot of the scripted missions in your average GTA game, too. And like the guy said, because everything's so scripted and linear, you can't change tactics, cut corners, use alternative approaches, etc., because the game will fail you for doing so.

 

Thing is, R* could do a shorter, less 'distracted' game, where the open world is smaller and less interactive, and thus have a more taut, better-paced story - that's what makes Mafia II so effective, IMO. Except Mafia II was seen as a disappointment compared to GTA, because 'there's less of everything'. :turn:  And on the other hand, R* did (seemingly accidentally) come up with a more open-ended, 'do it your own' way take on their formula with the early years of GTAO - you could do many contact missions using all the mechanics in the game (you can ignore enemies in certain missions - and if you want to do something with either just the starting pistol, or even a tank, it's up to you!). Except that's apparently not where they want to go any more, because later GTAO story missions (starting with Heists - and the same for RDO's missions) are just more 'follow the exact instructions, go there, shoot the dudes, etc.' like their single-player mission design.

 

 

I don't know if they'll ever have that Nintendo-style epiphany, though - unlike Nintendo (who were trying to make up for the disappointing reaction to the Wii U, and ensure the Switch was a success with things like Super Mario Odyssey and TLoZ: BotW), or Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft having responded to criticism of the series feeling stale by shaking things up, and making the newer games* much more systems-driven, á la MGSV), R* has no need to reinvent their formula. So long as they put out mammoth, 'realistic' blockbuster titles, that do 'a bit of everything', and have a 'cinematic' feel, that'll work just fine, apparently - and in an age where success in the AAA-games space often feels like a matter of 'how much money was spent making this thing look as realistic and lavish as possible?', R* has deeper pockets than most of the competition.

 


*curiously, this is where I think R*'s oft-lauded lengthy development times are possibly a hindrance - because even if they wanted to shake things up, a game taking half a decade (or more) to make inevitably risks feeling stale/outdated by the time it comes out. Assassin's Creed went through multiple revisions (subtle and fundamental) just in the five years between GTA V and RDR2 - meanwhile, RDR2 was being made that whole time, and it's hard to suddenly change course to incorporate new ideas midway through development (because that's a recipe for trouble - see also: Mass Effect: Andromeda, Mafia III, Destiny, etc.). I'll take something like AC Odyssey, that only needed three years, and doesn't have bespoke looting/skinning animations, if that means being able to improve and innovate, and not just churn out something that feels like 'the last game, but moar/bigger/more expensively-made'.

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universetwisters

I really enjoyed that video + the essay that open worlds are an illusion. It was worth staying up late when I have to be up for work in five hours.

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AnimalFather

A cure to the game design flaw is to have more missions where Dutch just says rescue this man and u can rescue him anyway u like or rob a train and then u can rob whatever train you want or kill this man and u can kill him anyway u want.

 

Im kinda worried about GTA6 moving forward but I think Rockstar will make Bully 2 before GTA6 to test the waters a bit. 

 

A great gta mission that I thought about was u get a mission to kill a rat in your group. and u can do it anyway u like. Straight up shoot him on the streets, snipe him from a tall building through his window. Place a bomb on his car. Wait in his car til he sits in it and strangle him. Call him to go hangout and then kill him when he's drunk. or maybe not kill him, tell him to leave town cause they want him dead, or plant drugs or a murder weapon on his car and call the cops so he goes away for life.

 

You can have the cinematic story telling but when it end have full creative power on how you do things.

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TheSantader25

Pretty good game and I still take any R* game over rubbish open worlds like Odyssey but this really is a worrying problem which is getting bigger and bigger after IV with each release. And it's not just R*. Pretty much the whole industry is heading towards linearity. I want the 3D era R* back. SA had perfect balance for it's freedom and story. 

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AnimalFather

How great would it have been that if you wanted to start the next chapter you had to by design raise up a certain amount of money to give to the camp inorder to move to the next location? that way you had to use the open world a lot more and had different options to raise money; steal or rob people, banks, trains, homes or hunt and sell the pelts, or just gamble? that would have been amazing.

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Commander S
8 hours ago, AnimalFather said:

How great would it have been that if you wanted to start the next chapter you had to by design raise up a certain amount of money to give to the camp inorder to move to the next location? that way you had to use the open world a lot more and had different options to raise money; steal or rob people, banks, trains, homes or hunt and sell the pelts, or just gamble? that would have been amazing.

 

 

There's a cool moment in Mafia II just like that, in fact - and it also deals with another problem with RDR2 brought up in the video. Light spoilers for Mafia II/RDR2 ahoy:

 

Spoiler


Despite all the various setbacks (including getting shipwrecked and nearly enslaved near Cuba - !!), Arthur Morgan is still able to wander around with thousands of dollars in his pockets - even while Dutch laments that the gang doesn't have enough money, needs "one more score", etc. The average RDR2 player will probably be sitting on $3,000 or more, at the exact point where Dutch gets his hands on $2,000 of documents, which will, apparently, get them some of the way to their goal. Player money and story money exist in different dimensions, with neither affecting the other - most likely so that the player doesn't have to suffer the inconvenience of being unable to buy whatever gun engraving or outfit they want at any time. As a result, you've got this glaring continuity split between plot and mechanics, which just undermines the weight of the story.

 

Meanwhile, in Mafia II, every time Vito Scaletta suffers a setback, the player feels it, too. Gang members burn Vito's fancy house down to the ground, and he escapes with only his underwear - so you're forced to live on a friend's couch (and then later squat in some dead colleague's old apartment), and wear his old (tacky!) outfits until you can buy your wardrobe back. And even more meaningfully, you then have to pay back a loan on a deal gone bad, with whatever money you can scrounge together - and that's not handled via a scripted mission. Instead, you're just told 'go back when you have the money', and it's up to you to figure out that you need to rob enough stores, flog enough cars at the docks/scrapyard, etc., until you can pay off the moneylender. And when that's done, that money is taken from your in-game account - Vito's story money and your player money are one and the same.

 

 

And it's weird, because Mafia II came out the same year as the original Red Dead Redemption - and there are clear signs that R* has taken some cues from the Mafia games with RDR2. This is a game where you need to always carry enough gun oil, and keep your horse fed, all in the name of realism - and yet things like 'always having megabucks, despite the plot saying you're all broke', or 'story missions having body counts in the dozens, and yet Dutch killing one guy is arbitrarily seen as shocking, because story beat'.

 

And it's not even like that's an inherent problem with wanting both fun/player empowerment and a story with weighty moments - Sleeping Dogs is a game that pulls off both, and it does so by never having the plot hinge upon something that'd strip away the fun stuff from the player (largely because the premise - he's an undercover cop, and they're able to bankroll things like an endless supply of rental cars - is built to enable that). In RDR2's case, it just feels ...thoughtless - like they wanted to tell a certain story, also wanted to tick all the boxes for how to make a broadly-appealing R*-brand experience, and didn't stop to wonder if/where the tried-and-tested formula might need tweaking to better serve the story/tone they were after.

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TheSantader25

@Commander S

 

You're points are stable but

 

 

Anybody knows that money was just an excuse for Dutch. No matter how much they earned he would still keep saying "one more". Dutch never wanted to get out.   Also this is even more clear when the game never tells you how much money is good enough for Dutch. 

 

Edited by TheSantader25

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American Venom

Pretty good video and makes alot of valid points however I have to disagree with him on how Red Dead Redemption 2 handles setting up campsites. He talks about realism, but I think this is one of those things that can be easily handled with a simple gameplay mechanic to prevent putting the players through a monotonous task.

 

I don't want to like Breath Of The Wild have to physically set up my own camp by collecting wood, start a fire etc. I guarantee that would get old very quick after the first few times.

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Commander S
26 minutes ago, TheSantader25 said:

@Commander S

 

You're points are stable but

 

  Hide contents

Anybody knows that money was just an excuse for Dutch. No matter how much they earned he would still keep saying "one more". Dutch never wanted to get out.   Also this is even more clear when the game never tells you how much money is good enough for Dutch. 

 



Yeah, but that still means that you've got Arthur wandering around with thousands on him at any given time, and with the option to split however much with the camp. Just because the game's narrative framing shows that Dutch is clearly not the kind to settle down and make good the "one more score, and we're done" shtick (or else they could have just set up a ranch between the lot of them, and just made money, legally - but again, not Dutch!), that's only show to the player. Arthur's still going along with him well into the late game - and at any point, it's kinda daft that he hasn't just said "hey, turns out I've got four grand on me, if that helps" (which might not magically get Dutch to say "okay, that'll do!", but would lay Dutch's BS bare for all to see).

 

Speaking of which, the other problem with the drawn-out pacing is that Dutch acts like a selfish, dishonourable bar steward pretty obviously - and that's not just framing, but his words and deeds. And yet, because R* still needs Arthur to be present for those missions, he'll say "I'm not so sure", or confide to someone else "this is over" or whatever, but ...still does it, and is still complicit, and it just makes Arthur come across like a bit of a chump.

 

I kinda feel the main story could have done with maybe being about half the length - maybe not as stripped down as Mafia II (which has no side missions at all - !), but I still feel that game's 15-ish hour story means that it doesn't have to stretch out/ignore/repeat beats, trying to make a cinematically-structured plot last for something more like three full seasons of a TV show.
 
 

14 minutes ago, Miamivicecity said:

Pretty good video and makes alot of valid points however I have to disagree with him on how Red Dead Redemption 2 handles setting up campsites. He talks about realism, but I think this is one of those things that can be easily handled with a simple gameplay mechanic to prevent putting the players through a monotonous task.

 

I don't want to like Breath Of The Wild have to physically set up my own camp by collecting wood, start a fire etc. I guarantee that would get old very quick after the first few times.



Agreed - that's a bit more full-on survival game. Thing with campfires in RDR is that they're more save points than actual campfires - Tomb Raider 2013 got around the 'start them anywhere, even when it's raining' thing by having them in fixed, sheltered areas, but that's easier in game with smaller hub maps instead of a gigantic open world.
 

Maybe making them simple bedrolls on your horse would make them less of an immersion breaker than setting up a camp area, but ...if anything, it's just proof that 'total realism at all costs!' isn't 100% necessary. Bit like how, again, I'm enjoying Assassin's Creed Odyssey right now, and I'm totally fine with having a simple "loot" command that doesn't require getting off my horse and watching an animation of Kassandra going through some dead bandit's pockets every single time... :turn:

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TheSantader25

@Commander S

 

 

 

 


Arthur was going to die anyway. But one thing that stayed solid till the end was that he still deep down believed that he could make Dutch see sense and most importantly expose Micah. That's the reason he stays till the end. He has nothing else to lose so he just stays with the only people he ever knew. What else he was gonna do? He couldn't leave. What's the point when you're gonna die anyway? You just try to fix the last thing that you have. 
 

 

There is nothing wrong with long stories if they are done right. Some of these missions should have been side missions if you ask me but let's not encourage devs to do short and half assed stories. Encourage devs to do the long ones "right". Example:San Andreas

 

I have actually developed a habit of counting filler missions since GTA IV(since it was filled with them) and RDR2 had 15 out of 107 missions.(6 of them particularly were in the epilogue)  Though I didn't count the optional ones. Since they are optional. My rules are pretty simple. A mission should move the story forward OR teach you a new gameplay mechanic or introduce you to a new tool(like a vehicle or weapon). Otherwise it's a filler. Unless there is a significant difference between that mission and other missions of the game that makes it special(example:The LENNYYYYY mission) 

Edited by TheSantader25

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Jabalous

Outdated isn't objectively a correct way to describe the missions structure. It's simply another way of designing missions with the narrative having a higher priority over player's freedom. The comparison to Zelda and Minecraft does not make sense because both games hardly have any story, complex characters and set pieces that drive progression. I'd take his criticism seriously if he can recall another open-world game with a narrative that is as deep and fine-tuned as Red Dead and with a better missions structure, so that the comparison can be fair and square.   

Edited by Jabalous

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Commander S
13 hours ago, TheSantader25 said:

@Commander S

 

There is nothing wrong with long stories if they are done right. Some of these missions should have been side missions if you ask me but let's not encourage devs to do short and half assed stories. Encourage devs to do the long ones "right". Example:San Andreas


Nothing against long stories - but it's curious how many games are influenced by movies first, and TV, comicbooks, novels, etc. further down the line. R* in particular make very "cinematic" games, in terms of not just look/feel, but also story structure.

 

Trouble is, that means either stretching 2-ish hours of movie-length plot to last the equivalent of three or more seasons of TV, or putting the main plot to one side to do trivial-seeming side diversions, or both. I can think of a few RPG-ish things that manage to balance a single main story arc, chapter-long sub-plots, and more stand-alone 'episodic' quests - and it's because they've (possibly accidentally) realised that it's better to structure something like that more like a TV show like Star Trek: DS9 (which had season-long arcs, a show-long larger story, and a variety of done-in-one stories), rather than wanting both a movie-style story, and hours and hours of Content™.

 

I get the feeling it's a 'games as a medium wanting the respect/prestige of film' thing, even today - TV and other forms being seen as 'lesser', and so Hollywood is put on a pedestal as the thing to emulate - and I don't know if that suits a lot of the things that aim for that.

 

 

TL:DR: if you're going to imitate shorter-form storytelling, tell a shorter story - if you want to tell a longer story and/or one with side-stories, multiple ongoing arcs, etc., imitate a medium/format that actually does that instead.

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TheSantader25

@Commander S

Max Payne 3 was a breaking point for R*. They realized that the reason people buy their games is the open world and content. That game didn't sell good at all. So they don't seem to be interested in linear games anymore. I don't think a linear R* game can be successful due to the fact that they don't do fantasy so they don't have supernatural advantages like GOW and TLOU to have more varied Gameplay and Story in the linear game. They throw in the short stories they could've told in a 60$ linear game as a "part" of a longer story in an open world game. 

Edited by TheSantader25

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Commander S
16 hours ago, TheSantader25 said:

@Commander S

Max Payne 3 was a breaking point for R*. They realized that the reason people buy their games is the open world and content. That game didn't sell good at all. So they don't seem to be interested in linear games anymore. I don't think a linear R* game can be successful due to the fact that they don't do fantasy so they don't have supernatural advantages like GOW and TLOU to have more varied Gameplay and Story in the linear game. They throw in the short stories they could've told in a 60$ linear game as a "part" of a longer story in an open world game. 



Oh, I know - but they're effectively telling linear/cinematic stories, then breaking them up, padding them, going off on tangents seemingly just for the sake of length and 'moar stuff', etc. Like I said, if you're going to do something with 30+ hours of story content, then you've got to write/pace it to fit - AC Odyssey is a good example of that 'TV show with series-long threads/season-long arcs/episodic stories' structure, where the main threads aren't being picked up and dropped arbitrarily, but weave in and out of each other, all clearly heading towards the same end point.

 

I get the feeling that R* (and Dan Houser in particular) don't really understand movies, as much as they love them and want to emulate them. Similar problem: the black bars that they wanted adding (late in development) whenever you activate RDR2's cinematic camera, or even the whole thing of taking up an entire button for "cinematic camera" in the first place - in an actual movie, those would be deliberately-framed shots, but in R*'s games it's just a toggle-able effect, and the faux-cinematic shots are just cycling through a number of angles the mimic the superficial appearance of films.

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TheSantader25
2 minutes ago, Commander S said:



Oh, I know - but they're effectively telling linear/cinematic stories, then breaking them up, padding them, going off on tangents seemingly just for the sake of length and 'moar stuff', etc. Like I said, if you're going to do something with 30+ hours of story content, then you've got to write/pace it to fit - AC Odyssey is a good example of that 'TV show with series-long threads/season-long arcs/episodic stories' structure, where the main threads aren't being picked up and dropped arbitrarily, but weave in and out of each other, all clearly heading towards the same end point.

 

I get the feeling that R* (and Dan Houser in particular) don't really understand movies, as much as they love them and want to emulate them. Similar problem: the black bars that they wanted adding (late in development) whenever you activate RDR2's cinematic camera, or even the whole thing of taking up an entire button for "cinematic camera" in the first place - in an actual movie, those would be deliberately-framed shots, but in R*'s games it's just a toggle-able effect, and the faux-cinematic shots are just cycling through a number of angles the mimic the superficial appearance of films.

Can't agree with you on Odyssey at all as a good example but yep. A long story should be done right. 

Edited by TheSantader25

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Hmmm nice bike
On 12/17/2018 at 10:45 PM, Commander S said:

And like the guy said, because everything's so scripted and linear, you can't change tactics, cut corners, use alternative approaches, etc., because the game will fail you for doing so. 

GTA IV had the issue of too many "Go here, shoot these guys, chase this guy, rinse & repeat" missions, but one thing I'll give it credit for is that there were multiple missions that were more open-ended and you were free to complete them in any number of ways, and the game didn't always punish you for doing something that might otherwise be seen as out of the ordinary. Like the mission where you have to take out a guy in his apartment. You could shoot his TV out, shoot the satellite dish and he'll get up to try to fix his TV, call up his phone and get him to move closer to the window, etc. And in Holland Nights, there were a couple of ways to reach and take out Clarence Little. I recall once calling the cops and it resulted in a massive shootout between the LCPD and gang members that you were technically supposed to fight on the way up to Clarence. But you could also climb up to a high point nearby like a crane and simply snipe Clarence, completely avoiding the gun battle.

 

Ever since then, I feel like Rockstar now just wants you to complete the missions in the way that they want them to be done, rather than letting the player have more choice in how things are done.

Edited by Hmmm nice bike

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TheSantader25
2 hours ago, Hmmm nice bike said:

GTA IV had the issue of too many "Go here, shoot these guys, chase this guy, rinse & repeat" missions, but one thing I'll give it credit for is that there were multiple missions that were more open-ended and you were free to complete them in any number of ways, and the game didn't always punish you for doing something that might otherwise be seen as out of the ordinary. Like the mission where you have to take out a guy in his apartment. You could shoot his TV out, shoot the satellite dish and he'll get up to try to fix his TV, call up his phone and get him to move closer to the window, etc. And in Holland Nights, there were a couple of ways to reach and take out Clarence Little. I recall once calling the cops and it resulted in a massive shootout between the LCPD and gang members that you were technically supposed to fight on the way up to Clarence. But you could also climb up to a high point nearby like a crane and simply snipe Clarence, completely avoiding the gun battle.

 

Ever since then, I feel like Rockstar now just wants you to complete the missions in the way that they want them to be done, rather than letting the player have more choice in how things are done.

I remember the interview mission. You could silently kill Tom Goldberg with a knife and jump out of the window with no cops. 

 

If only R* combined their new advanced storytelling and mission variety with the freedom we had with GTA IV and the previous GTAs... 

Edited by TheSantader25

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American Venom
On 12/24/2018 at 8:43 PM, TheSantader25 said:

I remember the interview mission. You could silently kill Tom Goldberg with a knife and jump out of the window with no cops.  

Or do what I do. Walk out through the front door like a bad arse. Agent 47 style.😎

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BillGates
Posted (edited)

It is so easy to criticize something these days and there is ALWAYS something to complain about. If R* had improved the game design as the dude in the video would've liked, it would have f*cked up the quality of the story, and he would complain about that. 

 

Remember when kids complained about the realistic driving mechanics in GTA 4? R* unfortunately listed to them, which resulted in GTA V's mechanics to be very arcady. Now the same kids complain about how they preferred the one from GTA 4.

 

Youtube kids these days.

Edited by BillGates

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MostWantedMVP

GTA6 will be a game changer I think. Obviously improving on RDR2's excellent mechanics.

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woggleman

I don't agree with everything but he makes some points and there is a reason why this video blew up the way it did. Rockstar would be wise to take head. Listening to your critics can only make you better.

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simpjkee

Rockstar done f*cked up by making such amazing games. Now their games are critiqued to death. I find any speck of imperfection and I have to go make a 40 minute video bitching and moaning about it on YouTube. 🙄

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woggleman
6 hours ago, simpjkee said:

Rockstar done f*cked up by making such amazing games. Now their games are critiqued to death. I find any speck of imperfection and I have to go make a 40 minute video bitching and moaning about it on YouTube. 🙄

Do you really think that is all there is to it. On other boards people are genuinely angry that RDR2 got such high critic scores. Maybe there is something to all this criticism and maybe R need to listen before people turn on them like they did with Bethesda. If the next game has these kind of controls it will be panned like Fallout 76.

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Journey_95
Posted (edited)
On 12/18/2018 at 5:45 AM, Commander S said:

...yeah, pretty much. And I'll add that I feel a lot of that is down to R* wanting to have their proverbial cake and eat it, in many regards:

 

- they want an open world because 'that's what R* does', but also a highly-linear "cinematic" story, which ends up turning the open world into a backdrop

- ...except they also want side missions, which means the story/tone often gets derailed to do random stuff for a bunch of weird caricatures

- they want to tell stories with movie-style pacing, but also have the games only ever bigger and longer - resulting in a 2-hour story getting stretched, padded and repeated to 30+ hours

- they want ever more 'realism', but still fall back on GTA-style mechanical staples - hence why every cop in Saint Denis instantly knows to hunt you down the moment you commit a crime (or nudge someone with your horse...), like they all carry pagers (in 1899...).

 

And there's more, too - the video brings up the more systemically-driven MGSV, and I think where R*'s approach falls short is that they're effectively trying to spend their way around the limits of a synthetic virtual world. Things like MGSV might not have thousands of uniquely-sculpted, uniquely-voiced NPCs, all with unique dialogue and interactions, but the game often feels more real, because Kojima and co. made sure that guard AI covers enough interlocking actions and reactions to fit all the various permutations of events/systems/interactions possible. Block a truck's path with an APC in MGSV, and the drive won't keep bumping into it like in GTAV, or just stop - they'll back the truck up, get out, and ...blow up the APC to clear the road (!).

 

Meanwhile RDR2 does have unique NPCs with unique dialogue ...that runs out when you exhaust all the options. It's impossible to hand-craft every possible interaction in a virtual world, so trying to do as much as possible is just going to push the problem further down the road, not eliminate it completely. And on top of that, there are a lot of times where R* hasn't accounted for something with unique content, and the illusion shatters - like when you accidentally nudge an NPC you're helping, and they panic, and you can't calm them down, so ...that mission fails, or just never resolves, because R* didn't assume to program some kind of 'calm down'/reset state.

 

 

And on top of that, so many of the scripted missions are pretty rote and uninspired, IMO - I was watching a streamer get increasingly bored with RDR2, every time a mission devolved into 'ride here, shoot all the things, ride back (possibly while getting chased - so that means riding and shooting!)', which is pretty much the same with a lot of the scripted missions in your average GTA game, too. And like the guy said, because everything's so scripted and linear, you can't change tactics, cut corners, use alternative approaches, etc., because the game will fail you for doing so.

 

Thing is, R* could do a shorter, less 'distracted' game, where the open world is smaller and less interactive, and thus have a more taut, better-paced story - that's what makes Mafia II so effective, IMO. Except Mafia II was seen as a disappointment compared to GTA, because 'there's less of everything'. :turn:  And on the other hand, R* did (seemingly accidentally) come up with a more open-ended, 'do it your own' way take on their formula with the early years of GTAO - you could do many contact missions using all the mechanics in the game (you can ignore enemies in certain missions - and if you want to do something with either just the starting pistol, or even a tank, it's up to you!). Except that's apparently not where they want to go any more, because later GTAO story missions (starting with Heists - and the same for RDO's missions) are just more 'follow the exact instructions, go there, shoot the dudes, etc.' like their single-player mission design.

 

 

I don't know if they'll ever have that Nintendo-style epiphany, though - unlike Nintendo (who were trying to make up for the disappointing reaction to the Wii U, and ensure the Switch was a success with things like Super Mario Odyssey and TLoZ: BotW), or Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft having responded to criticism of the series feeling stale by shaking things up, and making the newer games* much more systems-driven, á la MGSV), R* has no need to reinvent their formula. So long as they put out mammoth, 'realistic' blockbuster titles, that do 'a bit of everything', and have a 'cinematic' feel, that'll work just fine, apparently - and in an age where success in the AAA-games space often feels like a matter of 'how much money was spent making this thing look as realistic and lavish as possible?', R* has deeper pockets than most of the competition.

 


*curiously, this is where I think R*'s oft-lauded lengthy development times are possibly a hindrance - because even if they wanted to shake things up, a game taking half a decade (or more) to make inevitably risks feeling stale/outdated by the time it comes out. Assassin's Creed went through multiple revisions (subtle and fundamental) just in the five years between GTA V and RDR2 - meanwhile, RDR2 was being made that whole time, and it's hard to suddenly change course to incorporate new ideas midway through development (because that's a recipe for trouble - see also: Mass Effect: Andromeda, Mafia III, Destiny, etc.). I'll take something like AC Odyssey, that only needed three years, and doesn't have bespoke looting/skinning animations, if that means being able to improve and innovate, and not just churn out something that feels like 'the last game, but moar/bigger/more expensively-made'.

And what's wrong with having a bit of "everything"? That's what makes Rockstar games so accessible and popular in the first place. They have a cinematic story, a big open world for you to explore, good side content etc. You are looking at it in a negative way, the stories in their games wouldn't work as movies unless you rushed them and lost any depth, the open world is only the backdrop in the story, unlike Mafia 2 you can actually explore it and do lots of things outside the plot and the side missions have plenty of good human characters, not just caricatures.

 

 The missions may get "repetitive" but that's true for games like Mafia 2 & MGSV that you just mentioned as well. In Mafia 2 literally every mission was you going somewhere and shooting tons of people. MGSV rehashed the same crap again and again  (and the last part is the definition of bad padding) and it's open world never felt more real than Rockstar's to me, complete opposite in fact. It was boring and lifeless. I prefer having uniquely voiced NPC's and lots of interesting smaller stories over just a better AI.

 

Rockstar could add more approaches to a mission but I would never want them to pull a Ubisoft here, 99% of Far Cry and AC missions these days are boring "choose your own way" type of missions which makes them all feel similiar, they don't feel memorable at all like the earlier AC games that were more linear and scripted. I don't see what's bad at all about that, no one whines about TW3, GoW and The Last of us being scripted.

 

Going the Mafia 2 would be a step back for Rockstar since that game only gave you a good story (RDR2 still has it beat even there, Mafia 2's story was messy af later on) and zero open world (you know the big part of what makes their games popular). 

 

They don't need a epiphany, just some improvements here and there would be fine. But ruining the identity of their games to pander to some whiners like Ubisoft did with AC? No thanks. You would take Odyssey a poor Witcher 3 rip off that just follows popular trends, has horrible writing & bad voice acting, cartoony OTT gameplay, bad side quests, boring choose your own way missions rehashed, over RDR2, a well crafted game with a great story and characters, fantastic open world and memorable missions? Lmao, we can only hope Rockstar doesn't listen to people like you.

 

This whining about RDR2 reminds me of how people bitched about Mafia 2 and couldn't just let a story driven franchise with the open world as backdrop be, so we got Mafia 3 with barely any story and instead focus on "choose your own" style of repetitive garbage content. And then people whined about that too..

 

On 12/20/2018 at 9:31 PM, Commander S said:



Oh, I know - but they're effectively telling linear/cinematic stories, then breaking them up, padding them, going off on tangents seemingly just for the sake of length and 'moar stuff', etc. Like I said, if you're going to do something with 30+ hours of story content, then you've got to write/pace it to fit - AC Odyssey is a good example of that 'TV show with series-long threads/season-long arcs/episodic stories' structure, where the main threads aren't being picked up and dropped arbitrarily, but weave in and out of each other, all clearly heading towards the same end point.

 

I get the feeling that R* (and Dan Houser in particular) don't really understand movies, as much as they love them and want to emulate them. Similar problem: the black bars that they wanted adding (late in development) whenever you activate RDR2's cinematic camera, or even the whole thing of taking up an entire button for "cinematic camera" in the first place - in an actual movie, those would be deliberately-framed shots, but in R*'s games it's just a toggle-able effect, and the faux-cinematic shots are just cycling through a number of angles the mimic the superficial appearance of films.

Wrong again. RDR2 feels like a tv series with different arcs to me. Each chapter has it's own story while also progressing the overall narrative. Odyssey has you doing lots of boring fetch quests and drags on & on with nothing interesting happening. It's grindy and padded out, more than earlier AC games which were shorter but better crafted. 

 

That you think Odyssey is a good example shows that you don't really understand good stories in the first place..Rockstar gets movies just fine  but their games play more like tv show seasons, not interactive movies. That's more fitting for something like the Last of us.


The cinematic camera is just for fun, you are taking it too seriously. If they constantly forced that to have some deliberately framed shots it would get tedious.

 

On 12/19/2018 at 10:48 AM, Jabalous said:

Outdated isn't objectively a correct way to describe the missions structure. It's simply another way of designing missions with the narrative having a higher priority over player's freedom. The comparison to Zelda and Minecraft does not make sense because both games hardly have any story, complex characters and set pieces that drive progression. I'd take his criticism seriously if he can recall another open-world game with a narrative that is as deep and fine-tuned as Red Dead and with a better missions structure, so that the comparison can be fair and square.   

Exactly..last thing we need is for Rockstar games to be like Zelda or Minecraft. Or even MGSV that basically took a crap on the narrative driven style of earlier games to have a more "choose your own way" type of game.

Edited by Journey_95

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Commander S
3 hours ago, Journey_95 said:

 

Wrong again.



I do love how some people can't read an opinion without getting irate and all "NO YOUR RONG AND BAD!"... ;) Granted, I get that you clearly love RDR2 and hate Odyssey, so maybe me using Odyssey as an example of something I thought did some things in a more interesting way than R* did with RDR2 was going to push certain buttons - mea culpa, there...


Probably could have broken my posts up a bit, too - because you've conflated a whole bunch of those points, like I'm saying that things like MGSV are all good and perfect, and not just 'MGSV is mostly a tightly-knit web of interacting systems in the moment-to-moment stuff' (with a story that's in the running for worst-told of the entire series - so no, I wouldn't point to it as an example of how to do storytelling better!).

 

But my overall feeling with RDR2 isn't that 'it's trying to do everything, and can't/shouldn't' - more that it's trying to be several conflicting things, and rather than stick to things that might have been less in conflict, R* committed to all of them, and I don't think the end result is better for it.

 

To use one example, they've got a tightly-controlled main story where Arthur's character arc, outlook, etc. are entirely in R*'s hands - but also an RPG-lite moral choice/morality slider system. As a result, you choose to have Arthur spend the first few chapters taking the moral high road wherever you can, then beat a man into a pulp over a loan when the main plot demands it - then wind up with Arthur doing the right thing by people to atone for his actions in the main plot, but choose to be petty/selfish in the moral choice stuff. It's a mechanic taken from games where you define the character's story arc (KotOR, for instance), applied to a game where the protagonist's arc is set in stone - and I'd argue that all it winds up doing is letting the player contradict/undermine the story.

 

 

In general, if I had to make a video like Jakey's, I'd be less concerned by 'it needs to be more player-driven', and more broadly that R* games often feel ...unfocused, because they'd rather have their cake and eat it, instead of picking one or t'other. That's why I brought up Mafia II and Odyssey - not because they're 'better' stories than comparable R* games (which is why I didn't say that! ;)), but because they're contrasting examples of 'game that wanted the story to come first' and 'game where the story is a loose wrapper for gameplay', both of which commit to those things more than R*.

 

...and I get that it doesn't matter saying any of this, because R* can outspend pretty much everyone in the prestige/production values department, set sales records, make everyone go "wooooow", and they can make megabucks just doing what they do. Which is why I'm not saying 'R* needs to do _____' - they're doing exactly what's clearly working for them. All I'm saying is why certain things don't work for me as a player, compared to other things that I'm more impressed with elsewhere. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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woggleman

In less than a month his video has over 2 million views. Should that not tell you something?

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Journey_95
17 hours ago, Commander S said:



I do love how some people can't read an opinion without getting irate and all "NO YOUR RONG AND BAD!"... ;) Granted, I get that you clearly love RDR2 and hate Odyssey, so maybe me using Odyssey as an example of something I thought did some things in a more interesting way than R* did with RDR2 was going to push certain buttons - mea culpa, there...


Probably could have broken my posts up a bit, too - because you've conflated a whole bunch of those points, like I'm saying that things like MGSV are all good and perfect, and not just 'MGSV is mostly a tightly-knit web of interacting systems in the moment-to-moment stuff' (with a story that's in the running for worst-told of the entire series - so no, I wouldn't point to it as an example of how to do storytelling better!).

 

But my overall feeling with RDR2 isn't that 'it's trying to do everything, and can't/shouldn't' - more that it's trying to be several conflicting things, and rather than stick to things that might have been less in conflict, R* committed to all of them, and I don't think the end result is better for it.

 

To use one example, they've got a tightly-controlled main story where Arthur's character arc, outlook, etc. are entirely in R*'s hands - but also an RPG-lite moral choice/morality slider system. As a result, you choose to have Arthur spend the first few chapters taking the moral high road wherever you can, then beat a man into a pulp over a loan when the main plot demands it - then wind up with Arthur doing the right thing by people to atone for his actions in the main plot, but choose to be petty/selfish in the moral choice stuff. It's a mechanic taken from games where you define the character's story arc (KotOR, for instance), applied to a game where the protagonist's arc is set in stone - and I'd argue that all it winds up doing is letting the player contradict/undermine the story.

 

 

In general, if I had to make a video like Jakey's, I'd be less concerned by 'it needs to be more player-driven', and more broadly that R* games often feel ...unfocused, because they'd rather have their cake and eat it, instead of picking one or t'other. That's why I brought up Mafia II and Odyssey - not because they're 'better' stories than comparable R* games (which is why I didn't say that! ;)), but because they're contrasting examples of 'game that wanted the story to come first' and 'game where the story is a loose wrapper for gameplay', both of which commit to those things more than R*.

 

...and I get that it doesn't matter saying any of this, because R* can outspend pretty much everyone in the prestige/production values department, set sales records, make everyone go "wooooow", and they can make megabucks just doing what they do. Which is why I'm not saying 'R* needs to do _____' - they're doing exactly what's clearly working for them. All I'm saying is why certain things don't work for me as a player, compared to other things that I'm more impressed with elsewhere. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sure RDR2 could be more focused if it sticked to one direction/type like just being narrative driven like Mafia 2 or having no RPG esque choices at times or even go full open world and drop the story but I would argue it would make it a lesser game. Rockstar games are this popular and iconic because they offer it all..a cinematic story (that they have been only improving on since GTA 3 basically), a huge open world, lots of side content, fun gunplay (but nothing groundbreaking) etc. limiting themselves to one type would make them lesser.

 

The morality system isn't that contradicting. Even if you don't do bad things for the majority of the game in the side content, Arthur does do plenty of that in the main story so the beating part doesn't come out of nowhere. And even when the redemption arc comes up you can still f*ck over John because of the money and still demand payment from some people. I think it shows a man conflicted by his lifestyle and past. Sure it's more impactful if you follow the story's established path (first do bad things then later on go good) but more options aren't a bad thing.

 

Also let's be honest, unless you play Kotor/games like that in an either heroic way or complete cartoon villian way, the character comes off as hilariously inconsistent and goes from 100% good to 100% bad whenever he wants. At least with Arthur it fits, his whole character is that he knows he is a bad person and doesn't actually like doing bad things but still does them for various reasons. 

 

People don't go wow because of the production values or sales records..you are undermining how high quality Rockstar's games are overall. I mean to each their own but I just think that RDR2 is vastly superior to Mafia 2 and especially Odyssey even if those are more "focused" games.

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Commander S

Eh, I still think there's plenty of room for them to be more discerning with what gets included in their game smorgasbords - after all, no previous R* games had moral choice systems, and it's not like anyone felt things like GTA IV/V or RDR1 were worse for the omission.

 

...okay, there was a similar thing with GTA V's choice of endings - but like with RDR2, there's a strong case to be made that it's an unnecessary choice, because only Ending C wraps up the story in a thematically consistent manner. If there's a clear 'best' ending in terms of payoff, and there's no other choices like that in the game, then ...what was the point in suddenly adding a bit of 'choose your own adventure' at the very end of the game?

 


But in general, I reckon that future R* games wouldn't hurt from doing a couple of things:

 

1. Locking off side missions when it'd be inappropriate for the protagonist to do them. It's the old open-world game problem, sure (the plot says that the next story mission is urgent, but you can dick around doing random stuff for hours/days before getting around to the "urgent" stuff), but considering the rail-roading R* is perfectly happy with elsewhere (like following mission objectives to the letter, lest the player breathe near the wrong NPC and fail instantly...), I don't see why they can't do so here. Particularly when they're so tangential from the main story that you do all of that in the epilogue anyway - !

 

2. Spend more time on side missions and digressions from the main story that still focus on plot-related characters and the like. This was a realisation I had about the missions/TV episodes comparison - even when a TV does a b-story or a tonal shift for an episode, that's not the same as a side-quest. Star Trek DS9 might have a light-hearted episode about Quark to break up back-to-back war stories, but that's still a character piece that tells us more about a supporting character, and still takes place within the larger sequence of events. Meanwhile, in something like RDR2, things like the Bertram/Dragic/etc. side missions are just random diversions, with nothing to do with the main story/themes/etc., and not really telling us much about Arthur (or John, because...), either.

 

(and again, that stuff only feels more tangential and trivial when you can drop all the important stuff going on with Arthur and the gang to do it - Arthur can be sick as a dog and wrestling with his loyalties/morality, but ...sure, let's do random "wacky!" diversions, because open-world videogame...)

 

 

And that's just talking tone control - meanwhile, there's room for more of a difficulty curve in the missions (other than just 'throw more enemies at the player'), and if they really do want to stick with linear story missions over Hitman/MGSV-style multi-approach affairs, then they can still throw in more variety. GTA V had more interesting/varied set-piece moments than RDR2, IMO - and something that I've seen as a recurring criticism from streamers who aren't part of the larger R* fandom is that most missions devolve into cover shooting (or horseback shooting) eventually. I watched one guy get increasingly irate with the game, when he'd do something interesting like a stealth section or the riverboat card game, and then ...nope, gotta have another shootout with a body count in the dozens.

 

R* has the reputation and trust to get away with maybe having non-combat missions stand on their own as non-combat missions, rather than having a non-combat bit, followed by another generic shootout. Heck, that's one of the main criticisms people had with L.A. Noire: you've got a game with a much more serious, deliberate, realistic tone than a GTA-style open world, only for it to undercut that by having a police detective in a true-to-life version of 1947 suddenly go Rambo on dozens and dozens of faceless mooks, because videogames. I don't know if it's a lack of trust in players' patience, or simply wanting to have their cake and eat it (you've got a realistic, grounded story and B-movie levels of explosive action - just try to ignore the disconnect...), but if any company could afford to take the risk of maybe not trying to be everything in the one package and still sell a bajillion copies on reputation alone, it's Rockstar.

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sebban93557

So what he saying is that it is good to have:

 

Freedom or linear mission.

 

But it's not good to have both freedom and linear mission. 

 

Thats the biggest joke I ever heard.

 

Imagine Minecraft added a super sophisticated story without removing anything, the game would be better.

Meanwhile games like Uncharted are super boring without open world. Games like Minecraft are amazing, but playing the story in RDR2 is one of the best experiences I ever had. 

 

So stick with saying you want more freedom mission design if thats what you want. And that means you added more things to Rockstar already incredibly ambitious to do list. RDR2 is an absolute masterpiece no matter what. 

 

Then at one point in history we want GTA 123456789 with 100% real physics and eventually all content from the real world in the game. Witch means you in-game can count how many pieces a teacup ends up in after you destroyed it and then piece by piece glue it back together again.

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